Agroscope, Institute for Plant Production Sciences IPS, 1260 Nyon, Switzerland

Fallow deer farming in Switzerland – an animal welfare problem?

Fallow deer farming offers an alternative to the conventional meat-production and is in line with the extensification of meadowland. The Swiss Ordinance on Animal Protection rules wild animal husbandry in general terms, only. There are no specific directions for fallow deer farming. In this paper the behaviour of four fallow deer herds was investigated in space and time during winter and during calving season. Specific attention was put on agonistic interactions at winter feeding places, on early mother-calfbehaviour and on the condition of the pasture. The four enclosures (size 1,5-3,5 ha, 5-9 dams per ha, hiding structures and additional winter feeding, e.g. hay, turnips) did not cause any problems related to animal welfare. Nevertheless, a few specific measures aiming at the improvement of the deer’s living conditions are proposed.

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